Horror On TV: Baywatch Night 2.7 “Curse of the Mirrored Box”

A lifeguard’s job is never done!

On tonight’s episode of Baywatch Nights, Mitch has to save a young woman from a voodoo cult!  Because, listen — when you see a ghost, when you witness an alien abduction, when you realize that a cult is looking to commit a sacrifice, the first person you want to call is the beach patrol.

Being a lifeguard isn’t about just saving surfers, anymore.  Sometimes, it’s about saving the very soul.


Spider-Man Strikes Back (1978, directed by Ron Satlof)

When three college students decide to prove the folly of the nuclear arms race by stealing enough plutonium to make a nuclear bomb of their own, it’s up to Spider-Man (Nicholas Hammond) to sort them out!  He better do it quickly, too, because the police suspect that the plutonium may have been stolen by a grad student named Peter Parker.

However, Spider-Man is not the only person who wants that bomb.  The evil Mr. White (Robert Alda) also wants the bomb, though he’s not planning on using it to make the case for world peace.  Instead, he plans to blackmail the government into giving him a fortune in gold.  Now, Parker not only has to clear his own name but he has to keep Mr. White from blowing up Los Angles while, at the same time, preventing a nosy reporter (Joanna Cameron) from figuring out that he’s really Spider-Man.

Spider-Man Strikes Back was released as a feature film in Europe and was advertised as being a sequel to Spider-Man.  Gullible audiences who paid money to see it ended up sitting through a two-part episode of the Amazing Spider-Man TV show, albeit one that was edited into a 90-minute movie and which didn’t have stop for commercial interruption.

Spider-Man Strikes Back highlights exactly what went wrong with the first attempt to do a live action version of Spider-Man.  There were several members of Spider-Man’s regular rogues’ gallery who could have stolen that bomb and threatened Los Angeles.  It sounds like a typical Sinister Six plot.  Even the Kingpin, on a bad day, might be tempted to get in on that action.  Instead, the villain is a bland arms dealer named Mr. White.  CBS reportedly refused to use any classic Spider-Man villains because they wanted to keep the show grounded in reality but the minute Spider-Man crawled up a skyscraper for the first time, the network should have forgotten about trying to keep it real.

To repeat what I said in my review of Spider-Man, Nicholas Hammond is miscast as everyone’s favorite webcrawler.  Hammond is likable but he doesn’t come across as being at all insecure and it’s Spider-Man’s insecurities that distinguished him from other comic book heroes.  Spider-Man Strikes Back also suffers because it’s clear that much of the Spider-Man footage was reused from the pilot film.

I still enjoyed watching Spider-Man Strikes Back, though.  When I was a kid, Spider-Man was my favorite and, even in something like this, it’s still fun to watch him climbing up buildings and webbing up crooks.  Though there’s nothing cinematic about Spider-Man Strikes Back and it’s clearly just an extended episode of a TV show, I still liked that the climax took place in an preserved old west ghost town.  That was just strange enough to work.

Though Spider-Man Strikes Back was not as successful at the European box office as Spider-Man, it still did well enough that one more feature film would be crafted from the Spider-Man TV show, Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge.

Game Review: The Brutal Murder of Jenny Lee (2020, Daniel Gao)

Jenny Lee was only seventeen years old when she was brutally murdered, beaten to death with her own saxophone.  Now, seventeen years later, you have been sent into the past to investigate her murder.  A disembodied voice follows you everywhere you go, sometimes offering up hints but sometimes reprimanding you if you find clues to a solution that the voice doesn’t want to hear.  The voice makes it clear that you have a limited amount of time to solve the murder and when that time expires, so will you.  When you’re not investigating, you’re in limbo, where you can move in every direction but you can never escape.  Or can you?

This work of Interactive Fiction is actually two mysteries in one.  The first is the mystery of who murdered Jenny Lee.  The other is the mystery of who you are and why you’ve been sent to the past.  Neither is an easy mystery to solve and, fortunately, the game does have a walk-through for those who just want to find out what’s going on in the most straight-forward way possible.  However, it’s best to play this game without using the walk-through so that you can fully immerse yourself in the world that it creates.  Not everything you see in the game is going to be relevant to solving the mystery.  Like all good detective stories, there are red herrings.

The best advice I can give you for what to do while playing The Brutal Murder of Jenny Lee is to write things down.  A lot of the game’s clues involve remembering either directions or passcodes.  Making the right or wrong decision when going either north, south, east, or west be can be the difference between a good ending and a bad ending.

The Brutal Murder of Jenny Lee is an entry in this year’s Interactive Fiction Competition.  It, and all of the other entries, can be played here.

Horror Scenes That I Love: Cheatin’ Harry Gets Grabbed In Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

From 1958’s Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Harry discovers that cheaters never get away with it.  Especially when they’re cheating on someone who is 50 feet tell….

The Controversial Covers of Spicy Mystery Stories

by Delos Palmer

Spicy Mystery Stories was published from 1934 to 1943 and was one of the many “Spicy” magazines of the pulp era.  The Spicy line featured the same stories as the other pulps, just with a lot more sex and violence.  It was a popular magazine but it was also so controversial with the moral guardians of the era that it was eventually forced to tone things down and change its name to Speed Mystery.

Below are some of the controversial covers of Spicy Mystery Stories!  As always, the artist has been credited when known:

by Allen Gustav Anderson

by Allen Gustav Anderson

Artist Unknown

by Harry Lemon Parkhurst

by Harry Lemon Parkhurst

by Harry Lemon Parkhurst

by Hugh Joseph Ward

by Hugh Joseph Ward

by Hugh Joseph Ward

by Hugh Joseph Ward

4 Shots From 4 Bert I. Gordon Films: The Amazing Colossal Man, War of the Colossal Beast, Village of the Giants, Empire of the Ants

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’ve been using 4 Shots From 4 Films to pay tribute to some of our favorite horror directors!  Today, we celebrate Mr. Big himself, Bert I. Gordon!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957, dir by Bert I. Gordon)

War of the Colossal Beast (1958, dir by Bert I. Gordon)

Village of the Giants (1965, dir by Bert I. Gordon)

Empire of the Ants (1977, dir by Bert I. Gordon)

Horror On The Lens: Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster (dir by Robert Gaffney)

Today’s horror on the lens is the 1965 film, Frankenstein Meets The Space Man.  This film features not only the debut of character actor James Karen but it also gave him a rare lead role.  You may not recognize the name but you’ll know James Karen as soon as you see him.  He’s probably best known, among horror fans, for his roles in Poltergiest and Return of the Living Dead.

Despite the movie’s title, it’s not about Frankenstein.  Instead, it’s about an astronaut named Frank who is actually an android.  When his latest mission into space goes wrong, Frank ends up crashing in Puerto Rico.  Now malfunctioning, Frank causes some major chaos.  Can his creator, Dr. Adam Steele (James Karen), track Frank down and put an end to his reign of terror?

And what about the Martians?  Android Frank isn’t the only threat in Puerto Rico.  A group of Martians have landed and are determined to kidnap any girl wearing a bikini so that they can use them to repopulate their race.  We’re told that every woman on Mars — with the apparent exception of Princess Marcuzan, played with evil haughtiness by Marilyn Hanold — has been killed as the result of an atomic war.  Assisting Princess Marcuzan is Dr. Nadir (Lou Cutell), a short, bald Martian with pointy ears.

One of the oddest things about Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster is that, despite being a standard — if wonderfully nonsensical — low-budget B-movie, it features a great soundtrack!  Just try to get “That’s The Way It’s Got To Be” out of your head.


Music Video of the Day: Hot For Teacher by Van Halen (1984, directed by Pete Angelus, David Lee Roth, and Rick Friedberg

Eddie Van Halen, rest in peace.

We take a small break from our annual Horrorthon to present, for your approval, the type of music video that most bands probably couldn’t get away with today, at least not without running the risk of getting cancelled on twitter.  Hot For Teacher is both a song and a video that epitomizes both the 80s and Van Halen.

The video follows Waldo over the course of his first day of school.  Waldo’s voice is provided by the one and only Phil Hartman.  Hartman would join the cast of Saturday Night Live two years later, appearing on that show for ten years and then co-starring on Newsradio.  He was also an unofficial cast member of The Simpsons, providing the voices of both Lionel Hutz and actor Troy McClure.  Hartman was one of the of the funniest men to ever live.  His 1998 murder is still something that I have a hard time accepting.

The teachers are played by models Donna Rupert (she’s the Chemistry teacher) and Lillian Muller (she teaches physical education).  While the stripping teachers were considered to be controversial in 1984, what was even more controversial was a brief scene of the members of the band grabbing their crotch during the “so bad” chorus.  When the video originally aired on NBC’s Friday Night Video, the crotch-gabbing was covered by a black censor box.

In 1985, during the Al Gore-inspired Senate hearings on obscenity in rock music (or “porn rock,” as Al Gore called it), the video for Hot For Teacher was cited as being a particularly bad influence on young listeners and viewers.  The members of the committee took a break from the testimony of Tipper Gore and Frank Zappa to watch the video.  After the video ended, U.S. Senator Paula Hawkins of Florida testified, “Much has changed since Elvis’ seemingly innocent times. Subtleties, suggestions, and innuendo have given way to overt expressions and descriptions of often violent sexual acts, drug taking, and flirtations with the occult.”  Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any record of Senators Ernest Hollings and Strom Thurmond thought about the video.  Van Halen continued to rock long after all the members of that committee had either retired or been voted out of office.